When owner Jeff Vinik on Thursday announced that Marty St. Louis will be the first player in Lightning history to have his number retired, it elicited strong opinions from both sides.
Those who recall fondly St. Louis' 17-year career — 13 with the Lightning — two scoring titles, league MVP award and starring role in the team's 2003-04 Stanley Cup championship season rejoiced in the news that the former Bolts captain will be honored Jan. 13 against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Times sports columnist Tom Jones wrote that St. Louis, who leads the Lightning in career scoring with 953 points and ranks second in games (972) and goals (365), should be remembered as the best player in franchise history.
Some fans wondered why Vinny Lecavalier, the team's all-time leader in games and goals, won't be the first to have his number retired.
Others, still stung by the trade St. Louis forced to the Rangers in 2014, disagree with the decision altogether.
In an email to the Times, reader Jim Doyle of Tampa made it clear he is not in favor of retiring St. Louis' number.
"I disagree strongly with the Lightning's decision to retire Number 26. Marty was a hero to hockey fans in Tampa. A masterful player who made the most of his 5'7" frame. He was so beloved in Tampa that people would have carried him on their shoulders through Tampa Bay.
"But in 2014 , he decided for reasons that have always been murky to request a trade to the Rangers.
"Tom Jones wants us to forgive and forget. I have done that. But what bothers me is not Marty's decision to leave the team he captained in the midst of a playoff run. That was pretty bad. But the real thing that stings was his interview with the NY media where he stated he always wanted to be a Ranger.
"Forgive, of course. Forget, why not. But after that comment, I wouldn't retire his number, ever.
"Maybe the Rangers ought to retire 26.''
How do you feel about the decision?